Continental monetary union currently unfeasible, says African central bankers

22 Aug 16

An African monetary union is currently unfeasible due to the commodity price crash and external shocks to economies across the continent, a group of central bankers has said.

A communiqué issued by the Association of African Central Bank Governors (AACB) following a meeting in Nigeria last week called on African countries to strengthen their resilience in order to meet the criteria for continent-wide monetary convergence.

The AACB announced in 2003 that it would work to develop a single currency and common central bank for Africa by 2021, building on the African Union’s goals for economic and political integration.

But the communiqué said governors at the meeting “pointed out the inability of African states to sustainably meet some of the criteria for macroeconomic convergence because of the negative impact of the international environment including the fall in prices of raw materials and commodities”.

They called on countries to strengthen their efforts to diversify their economies, improve the business environment and promote regional trade in order to strengthen resilience.

This will also prevent African nations from being badly hit by the “unwinding of unconventional monetary policy measures” in developed countries, for example the removal of policies adopted by the US Federal Reserve in response to the financial crisis.

Governors decided that the theme of next year’s AACB symposium will be to discern lessons in monetary and financial integration from the experience of the European Union, where events in Greece and a difficult recovery after the 2008 crisis have led to wide criticism of economic convergence.

Speaking at the event in Abuja last week, Nigerian president Mohammadu Buhari stressed the “pressing and urgent need to strengthen economic and monetary integration” in Africa in an environment of weak global demand, budget deficits, growing public debt and illicit capital flows.

He also highlighted the need for coordinated monetary and fiscal policy, structural transformations to ensure African economies are self-sufficient, and the importance of central banks in finding lasting solutions to the challenges faced by many African nations today.

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